Though diversity is top of mind for many organizations, not all are equipped to successfully navigate today’s ever-evolving workplaces.
Enter inclusive leadership training, a necessity for workplaces seeking to advance diversity, promote equity, and foster inclusion. If done correctly, DEI leadership training can help your team grow in their understanding of diversity-related issues and equip them with tools and strategies to actively contribute to and be a part of an inclusive work environment.
In this article, we outline both the fundamentals and the benefits of DEI leadership training so you can take your next step toward diversity with clarity.
The basics of DEI leadership training
Inclusive leadership training should go beyond awareness of diversity-related issues and offer more than generic management lessons that can be broadly applied to various situations. “Developing inclusive leadership is likely to require much more than observational learning and the acquisition of disembodied skills that can be similarly deployed across situations,” write Cornell University’s Lisa Nishii, Associate Professor and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, and Hannes Leroy of the Rotterdam School of Management in a recent edition of Group & Organization Management.
“The quick fixes that organizations seek may be unrealistic because teaching people to behave in certain ways across superficially similar situations only gets them so far. The generic strategies learned through training need to be fine-tuned to address the specific challenges and opportunities presented across the diversity of situations leaders face.”
In short, Nishii and Leroy’s findings suggest that effective diversity leadership training needs to be research-backed, pragmatic, and situational. When vetting inclusive leadership training programs, consider asking questions like:
- What research or experiences inform this practitioner/program’s methods?
- What knowledge or skills will I or my team have after completing this DEI leadership training?
- What particular workplace situations does this inclusive leadership training prepare me and my team for?
The advantages of DEI leadership training
Inclusive leadership training is more than checking a box on your company's diversity to-do list. The tools and strategies learned through inclusive leadership training can help team members grow personally/professionally while simultaneously advancing your organization's values and driving performance. Here are some of the tangible benefits of DEI leadership training:
Uphold your values
Implementing effective, research-based diversity leadership training is one way for your organization to start putting action behind your words when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion. It’s a practical way to move beyond mission and vision statements and get to the work of creating a truly inclusive workplace.
Empower current and future leaders
Opening up inclusive leadership training opportunities for employees beyond the C-suite, including directors, managers, and staff members, can empower employees to lead with diversity at the center in their respective spheres of influence. “People’s more local and interpersonal experiences make all the difference” when it comes to DEI, researchers say.
“While senior leaders espouse the organization’s ideals, set strategy, and are responsible for designing policies and practices that make it more likely that employees perceive the organization as being committed to inclusion, it is lower-level leaders who are responsible for translating those espousals and policies into action.”
Promote value creation
The skills and strategies offered through diversity leadership training go beyond the realm of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors. In fact, competencies like coordinating and leveraging people’s strengths, conflict resolution, and collaboration contribute to an inclusive work environment while also maximizing talent and teamwork, i.e. promoting value creation.
Ready for some data? Harvard Business Review found that inclusiveness “directly enhances performance.” According to their research, “teams with inclusive leaders are 17% more likely to report that they are high performing, 20% more likely to say they make high-quality decisions, and 29% more likely to report behaving collaboratively.”
Facilitate personal and professional growth
The qualities developed through inclusive leadership training not only help employees advance diversity, they’re also a core piece of the type of “reflective exploration” that often marks personal and professional growth. “Developing as an inclusive leader thus first involves acquiring knowledge and awareness of oneself, others’ social identities, and strategies for managing diversity dynamics,” according to Group & Organization Management. The process of becoming an inclusive leader involves “conscious sensemaking, deep reflection, and transformation learning.”
Harvard Business Review found that inclusive leaders tend to exhibit the following characteristics: visible commitment, humility, awareness of bias, curiosity about others, cultural intelligence, and effective collaboration. At the end of the day, addressing one’s preconceived notions and narratives with openness is a key part of making progress, whether it’s advancing diversity or just generally becoming a better human being.
Partner with AboveBoard as we elevate diverse leaders
DEI leadership training is just one tool at your disposal. Ultimately, creating a diverse, inclusive work environment is a multi-faceted effort that includes recruiting, hiring, mentoring, and training underrepresented executives. That’s where AboveBoard comes in.
Our executive platform and community exists to diversify executive leadership by empowering those who have been historically excluded from the executive ranks. We empower candidates through access and transparency to leading opportunities in today’s C-suites and boardrooms while also delivering a high-quality, efficient, and affordable process to hiring companies.